Interview with Phiala Shanahan, assistant professor of physics in the Center for Theoretical Physics at MIT. Shanahan explains the administrative relationship between the department and the Center, and she recounts her childhood in Adelaide, Australia, her experiences at an all-girls school and the benefits this conferred in nurturing her interest in science. She discusses her concentration in computational physics and the mass of the H-dibaryon at the University of Adelaide and her decision to stay on with her undergraduate advisors, Anthony Thomas and Ross Young, for graduate school. Shanahan describes her interest in the proton radius puzzle as a research entry point for her thesis work and why she was interested in how particle physics can be connected more rigorously to quarks, gluons, and ultimately chemistry. She describes the opportunities leading to her postdoctoral research at MIT and some of the cultural adjustments she had to make coming from Australia. Shanahan discusses her collaboration with Will Detmold and she describes her contributions to the NPL-QCD research project and she discusses her first faculty appointment at William & Mary before returning to MIT where she remains in her current appointment and where she is pursuing work on proton structures and in creating ever-faster algorithms. She describes the potential benefits that would be conferred with the availability of true quantum computing for her field, and she describes some of the difficulties she has faced as a woman in getting recognized for her accomplishments in her field of research. At the end of the interview, she emphasizes why her long-term goal is to bridge nuclear physics and chemistry, and why she wants to keep an open mind about pursuing other areas that are both interesting and offer the opportunity to push forward discovery in foundational ways.
Interview with Ruth Van de Water, Scientist I at Fermilab. She explains the hierarchical system at the lab to explain her title and she recounts her childhood in Northern Virginia. Van de Water describes her undergraduate experience at William & Mary where she developed an interest in physics and was mentored by David Armstrong, and she describes the considerations that led to her admission to the graduate program at the University of Washington. She discusses her early involvement in the Atlas program and her thesis research that focused on computational and numerical physics and lattice QCD. Van de Water discusses her postdoctoral work at Fermilab, and she describes the state of play regarding the Tevatron and the D0 and CDF collaborations. She describes her ongoing work in lattice QCD research and the opportunity that led to her second postdoctoral position at Brookhaven, where she pursued a new approach to discretizing quarks. Van de Water describes Fermilab “poaching” her back to work on quark flavor physics and become involved in the G-2 experiment. She discusses the negative impact on a decreased budget, and her current leave from Fermilab to be a visiting professor at North Central College, and she shares that she is conflicted about continuing on a strictly research path and focusing more directly on teaching. At the end of the interview, Van de Water discusses the impact of #ShutdownSTEM and the issue of inclusivity in physics and why solutions to under-representation are not easily achievable.
Interview with Warren W. Buck, Chancellor Emeritus, Professor of Physics Emeritus at the University of Washington at Bothell, and Adjunct Professor of Physics and Special Advisor to the President for Equity in the 21st Century at William and Mary. Buck recounts his upbringing in segregated Washington DC, his early interests in science, and the opportunities that led to his admission to Lincoln University for his undergraduate degree before transferring to Morgan State. He discusses the racial strife and the civil rights movements of the late 1960s, his interest in physics as an undergraduate, and his decision to pursue a graduate degree at William and Mary. He explains his decision to leave after getting a master’s degree to teach at Bowie State and to be more involved in Black student organizing, and he describes his thesis research on deuteron theory under the direction of Franz Gross. Buck describes sailing in the Bahamas after graduate school and his appointments at Stony Brook and Los Alamos, and he explains his interests in nucleon-nucleon interactions. He describes a formative research year in Paris and his subsequent faculty position at Hampton University, his collaboration with Jefferson Lab, and his work introducing theoretical mesonic form factors. Buck discusses meeting Lillian McDermott and his recruitment to help build a new UW satellite campus at Bothell as chancellor. He surveys his accomplishments in that role and explains his decision to retire, and at the end of the interview, Buck discusses his interest in Buddhism and how Buddhist philosophy can be understood in the context of nuclear theory.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Dr. Julia Phillips, executive emeritus of Sandia National Laboratory. Phillips recounts her childhood in rural Illinois, her early interests in science, and the influence of her father, who was a general surgeon, and her mother, who kept the books for her father’s practice. She describes her undergraduate experience at the College of William and Mary, where she solidified her interest in experimental physics, and her decision to pursue a graduate degree at Yale, where she studied low-energy electron impact excitation in helium and krypton and the threshold for the excitation of the first few excited states. Phillips discusses her work at Bell Labs, where one of the major projects during her time was in extending Moore’s Law. She describes her decision to join Sandia, provides a historical overview of the lab, and explains her work in nuclear verification issues. Phillips discusses her various promotions in leadership at Sandia, and how its role in national security issues have evolved over the years. In the final portion of the interview, Phillips discusses her recent work in professional service, and provides some general advice for young scientists.
H. Frederick Dylla discusses topics such as: ruby laser; Bell Laboratories; RCA Engineering Research Center, Canton, New Jersey; Edgerton, Germeshausen, and Grier, Inc. (EG&G); Harold Edgerton; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Franklin Instiutte; Richard Feynman; Mark Zemansky; Princeton University; John King; molecular beams; atomic clocks; bachelors work on acoustics; masters research on low temperature physics; doctoral research on surface physics; Ted Madey; John Yates; Jim Murday; Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory; tokamaks; Sandia National Laboratories; Ray Weiss; Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO); benefits of professional societies; Manfred Kaminsky; Argonne National Laboratory; AVS; Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology; National Bureau of Standards (NBS); National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST); Paul Redhead; National Research Council (NRC), Canada; Dennis Manos; College of William and Mary; John Coburn; Harold Winters; Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF); Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA); George Neil; Jefferson Laboratory; free electron lasers; Star Wars program; electron beam accelerator; linear accelerator (LINAC); Rey Whetten; American Institute of Physics.